Felipe Massa has not been on an F1 podium for almost two years, but that is not stopping the under-fire Brazilian from eyeing a possible victory in front of the tifosi
While Ferrari favourite Fernando Alonso suffered a rear rollbar failure in the crucial third phase of qualifying - ironically while attempting to make the most of a reciprocal tow from his team-mate - Massa was only bumped off the front row by Jenson Button's last-gasp effort, and will start from the inside of row two on Sunday afternoon. It was the first time this season that the Brazilian had qualified in front of Alonso and underlined Massa's belief that he still has what it takes to remain at Ferrari next season.
What will obviously aid that cause even more is if the 31-year old can overcome the McLaren challenge and take his first win since the accident in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand prix that left him fighting for his life.
"That's always the direction we need to take," he admitted, "We go to the grid thinking about victory, thinking about doing the maximum you can to win the race and that's what I'm going to do tomorrow. [McLaren] are very strong, they are quick, but we have 53 laps in the race. We know how different the race can be compared to qualifying so, for sure, I want to try everything I can.
"It's important to everybody. None of us [in the top three starting spots] won here before, so it's very important for everybody - and very important for me. I know how important it is for me and, as I said before, I will try everything to win and to do a good race."
With the threat of the axe hanging over him - even though Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo began the weekend by saying that no decision had yet been taken on his future [see separate story
] - Massa insists that he will not be putting extra pressure on himself to succeed.
"I think I know very well the pressure I have, so it doesn't change anything," he reasoned, "We just need to do the best on the track. You always have a lot of pressure. We just need to concentrate on the race. It's a very important race tomorrow for me, but also for the team, so let's concentrate on that. When you race for Ferrari, you always have a lot of pressure.
"I'm very satisfied [my best qualifying of the year] is in this place. I'm happy and really looking forward to it. It's a very important race for us, a very important race for me. And I'm looking forward to a good race in front of these fantastic people.
"Unfortunately, I've never won here at Monza in F1, but I've always done good races. Before F1, I always won all the races I did at this track, so I think it's a very nice track which I enjoy a lot. I used to live close by when I was doing Formula Renault, so I really enjoy this place and hope we can have a fantastic race tomorrow."